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Market Deeping Community Primary School

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Market Deeping Community Primary School
Market Deeping Community Primary School is an expanding school and we currently have 315 children, working within a straight Reception cohort of 45, a mixed-age KS1 of 90 across 3 classes, a mixed-age LKS2 of 90 across three classes, two Y5 classes (22 each) and two Y6 classes of 23 in each. We have been working with Skills Builder for a number of years and achieved the Silver Award last year after incorporating the skills into our everyday practice and reward systems. This year we stepped this up further with our Curriculum development work and we now have the skills as our central core school values, ensuring that the skills are central to everything we do in school. We firmly believe that children need to develop the different skills in order to be successful learners and to then go on to be successful citizens once they leave education. We have linked skills together to formulate our four school values of: Confident Communicators, Resilient Learners, Aspirational Citizens and Community Champions and the skills symbols are an integral part of all of our lessons, our discussions and our learning. Skills specific sessions are used within our whole school assemblies and are then followed-up in class as we have ensured that the children really understand their current skills performance levels and how they can progress. Opportunities to apply the skills are built into our lessons and we have also engaged in a Challenge Day, giving over the learning time to allow the children to dig deeper into their collective and individual understanding by taking on the Operation Moonbase task, which they really enjoyed! We aim to build a firm understanding and base for the children to recognise, understand and self-analyse skills so they are ready to develop them further in secondary school.
Overall impact
The Accelerator programme has helped us to understand and develop the skills in our school, with the tailored support of consultants from Skills Builder. Through our regular meetings and reviews, we have worked collaboratively to set and review targets so we ensure that our work is focused and best supports our children. The staff training sessions have provided the staff with opportunities to understand the common language and conceptual direction of the Skills Builder programmed and given valuable time to our staff to engage with the wealth of resources on the Hub. We feel that our work this year has taken us that extra step and now that the Skills are essentially our Curriculum drivers and school values, the children have the best possible opportunity to understand, reflect on and improve their skills knowledge through daily application in our lessons and teaching and learning approach. The one particular stand-out moment came with the Skills Builder Challenge Day, where the whole school engaged in a whole day of learning to give them the time to really apply their skills understanding within an enjoyable day filled with fun, enthusiasm and enjoyment!
Keep it simple
We have worked on each individual skill in a step-by-step approach through an initial whole school assembly and follow-up session led by the Skills Champion. Our teachers then work on the focus skill with their classes to ensure that the step progression is fully understood and that each child recognises the progression steps to improve. Our children earn skills tokens throughout each day, which they earn by exhibiting a particular skill. Once a child earns ten tokens, they are awarded a certificate in our weekly celebration assembly. Each teacher also awards a certificate weekly for the child that has demonstrated a dual skill strongly that week. All of our staff and children use the common language of the Skills Builder approach in our teaching and learning and we display the symbols within lessons and discuss how we are applying them in particular tasks. The skills are central to everything we do!
Start early, keep going
The skills are introduced in our Reception classes and are progressively developed through each year group in school, following the guidance and by utilising the lesson resources produced by Skills Builder. The individual skills are worked on at the right level in each classroom and skills displays are in our classrooms, alongside the skills tokens reward systems. Activities and tasks within all our lessons utilise the symbols, language and terminology of the skills to embed these and give them real meaning and application opportunities. We have also developed a Skills homework mat, listing tasks for each dual skill that the children can work on at home with their parents to ensure that the whole school community recognises their importance and works collectively to help our children develop strong skills for life.
Measure it
We schedule the assessment of each individual skill within our monitoring schedule three times a year, recording a baseline at the start of the year, then a mid-year point in February, followed by an end of year assessment in July. Using the hub report, we then review the progress of individual classes and reflect on the successes and developmental areas for the cohorts in their next year in school. These reviews then help us to identify weaker areas to develop and also those areas of strength to celebrate. Ongoing assessment and reward of skills acquisition and progress is carried out within all of our lessons, when the children are given opportunities to apply the skills when tackling a range of activities and tasks in our core and foundation subjects. These opportunities are mapped out within our termly knowledge maps for each subject so we are able to ensure progression and coverage through a child's learning experience with us from Reception through to Year 6.
Focus tightly
Everyday, the children are given opportunities to apply the skills, win tokens and reflect on the direct learning about the steps that are being developed. The language and conceptual understanding of individual skills that has been discussed and worked on within the stand alone skills sessions is applied by the children when they tackle a task and then the class will discuss the successes and development points for next time. This 'plan, do, review' cycle allows the children and the staff to constantly strive to measure and improve understanding of current levels and how to move forward and progress. These discussions sometimes utilise the direct resources from the hub, but on most occasions are developed through the skilled understanding of our staff as we all have a collective responsibility and understanding of these as they are our core values in school. Collectively we strive to ensure that the skills are central to everything we do...
Keep practising
In addition to the everyday work that goes on in our classrooms, we have also engaged in a Challenge Day, where the children worked in teams to develop a new Utopian society within Operation Moonbase. This was a successful and enjoyable day and one that we have been wanting to partake in for some time. We have also included the skills within some of our extra-curricular clubs, most notably within the Lego computing club, led by our headteacher, Mr Mark Ratchford. The children developed a programme, using coding and Lego, and then gave a presentation in a local competition, where they utilised all their skills outside of our usual school community. Our PE leader has incorporated the skills, especially leadership and teamwork, into our various Sports teams, giving practical opportunities for some of our children too. We plan to utilise the skills in more clubs next year, now that we feel more comfortable in having children from different classes mixing.
Bring it to life
As a primary school and due to the Covid epidemic, it has proven difficult to develop the real-life challenges and to work with outside providers and employers. We have instead, ensured that the children understand the value of the skills through our in-school systems, provision and reward approaches. The children have developed a very strong understanding of each of the individual skills and apply this through their everyday learning in their lessons. We aim to find more opportunities in the near future to branch out more and now that we feel the skills are embedded in our values, curriculum and home-school learning partnership, we will be scheduling a project and challenge day for each term in the next academic year. Our children understand the skills, understand their strengths and developmental points, and will now be given even more opportunities to apply these within our everyday curriculum and our focused projects and Challenge days.
What's next
The next stage in our Skills Builder journey is to move away from the tailored support of the Accelerator programme, as we believe that we have completely embedded the concept into our everyday teaching and learning. We will now strive to find more opportunities to for the children to apply the skills and progress along the steps through the inclusion of a Project and Challenge Day in each term in the next academic year. We will also look for more opportunities to engage with the wider community and local businesses to try to develop opportunities to present the skills in a real-world environment and to inspire our children and allow them to see how skills will benefit them in their futures.
East of England
United Kingdom